Beautiful P-51B

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Interesting to note that she wasn't "the Stars Look Down" when Ike rode in her. There have been some great FB discussions on her, including the Grandson of one of the mechanics that converted her to a 2 seater. Apparently it was ground looped and precipitated the rebuild with the second seat. From what we can tell Ike flew over the area of St. Lo, actually not far from where the group was staging from in northern France. After the famous flight she underwent some changes that included a new paint job and a new rear canopy.



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Seems to me that sending the Supreme Allied Commander on a recon flight over hostile territory makes as much sense as sending a starship commander and his senior staff on an away mission.
But when the Supreme Allied Commander "asks" to be flown over the battle zone, it's not a request...
The 354th Website has a great recounting of Ike's visit/flight from Richard Turner. I also did a then and now comparison of the Airfield at Cricqueville, it's not hard to imagine Ike getting a birds eye view of the can cover a lot of ground in a Mustang in a short period and the beaches were just north of the airfield.

Link to the 354th site

The red pointer on the expanded image of Normandy notes the location of the airfield, the other two are 'then and now' images of the layout. You'd never know there was an air base here. The runway length has been noted at 5000ft.



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Wonder why they did not use a P-38 Droop Snoot Instead. The view from the nose would have been really great.

01 - P-38L Droop Snoot - 43-56295 and 56281 - 24 Aug 1945 - 3-4 fr.jpg
They use that two seat P-51B to sell rides, as well as to allow a Co-Pilot to help with some flights, such as slow timing the engine. So they had to make it easier to get in and out of the cockpit.

Still, you have to wonder if a better accommodation could have not been made for Ike in another type aircraft. For example, one of the new A-26''s should have given him a great view, with that large window they had aft of the wing on the Right side. But nothing else available could have run away to safety better than a P-51B.

I recall seeing recon P-38's in formation over France with an AT-6, but while that was before the end of the war, it was after the Germans had been virtually eliminated in France.
photo recon Mosquito would've been my go to?
Gen. Eisenhower's pilot, Maj. Gen. Quesada, was an experienced pilot and even had time in a P-38, but I think the P-51 was the right choice.
They also flew 50 miles beyond the Allied lines and the entire time, were escorted by three other P-51s.
They had them in that time frame. In fact the U.K.was where they built them. They even had one configured as an ECM aircraft. And of course it had two engines.

Bailing out of it would have been a problem for Ike, but with two engines and a strong fighter escort it should have been at least as safe as a P-51.

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